You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Facebook Unveils Plans to Stop ‘Fake News’ Outbreak

Facebook is making a bid to stem the “fake news” phenomenon in which critics have suggested the social-media giant has played no small part.

The company said it would partner with ABC News, Snopes.com, FactCheck.org and PolitiFact, and use them as third-party fact-checkers of articles flagged by Facebook members. Hoax stories or articles determined to be fake will be identified as such for users, and will, as a result, appear lower in Facebook news feeds, said Adam Mosseri, vice president for News Feed at Facebook, in a post made Thursday.

“It will still be possible to share these stories, but you will see a warning that the story has been disputed as you share,” the executive said. “Once a story is flagged, it can’t be made into an ad and promoted, either.” Facebook said it would work to reduce the ability of hoax publishers to post their stories as ads and had eliminated the ability to “spoof” the web domains of verified publications.

In unveiling the efforts, Facebook is navigating a tricky path. The company, which has grown in leaps and bounds in recent years as more consumers come to rely on information from social networks accessed through mobile devices, has long resisted the idea that it has become a media company of sorts, distributing content to eager audiences. During the recent U.S. election cycle, however, many users found friends and acquaintances posting items that looked like serious news articles that actually had little basis in fact, and Facebook has faced accusations that its users were ill-informed by the pass-along of hoaxes, which also caused further division among Americans.

Facebook’s role in spreading information has grown in recent years. The social-networking outlet reaches approximately 67% of U.S. adults, according to Pew Research Center, and two-thirds of its users get news from the site. That figure would mean 44% of the general U.S. adult population gets news from Facebook, according to Pew.

The recent election has been a boon for social media. About 65% of U.S. adults told Pew in a 2016 survey they learned about the election in a past week from digital sources. About 48% said they did so from news sites or apps and 44% from social networking sites.

And yet, the company has been loath to insert itself into the role of policing content.  Facebook came under fire in May and faced accusations that employees may have been censoring stories and sites that were included in its “Trending Topics” section that nods to some of the more popular conversations taking place among its users. The team that managed that section was laid off,and  fake stories were spotted surfacing there in the weeks after that decision was made.

“The problems here are complex, both technically and philosophically. We believe in giving people a voice, which means erring on the side of letting people share what they want whenever possible.  We need to be careful not to discourage sharing of opinions or to mistakenly restrict accurate content,” said Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook in a November posting. “We do not want to be arbiters of truth ourselves, but instead rely on our community and trusted third parties.”

ABC will devote about six employees to tackle fact-checking duties, said James Goldston, president of ABC News, in an interview Thursday. Other ABC News resources could also be brought to bear, depending on the situation. The four fact-checking outlets are expected to share duties and could tackle stories that deal with subjects ranging from politics to culture, he said.

“This is a significant initiative to deal with what has been an incredibly difficult and thorny issue,” said Goldston. “We have seen over the course of this election cycle the truly toxic effects of fake news,” he added, “and we do obviously believe in making sure the American people have real information on which to make their decisions.”

ABC News could turn its fact checking work into content itself, Goldston said. He expected the Disney-owned unit to create posts about its staffers’ findings as well as live-streamed programming and “weekly wrap ups.”

There is no time frame to the media partnerships, Goldston said. “Hopefully, we will do it until there isn’t a problem any more,” he said. “I don’t know how long that will take.”

More Digital

  • Murder Mystery

    Netflix Reveals Record-Breaking Stats for Sandler-Aniston 'Murder Mystery' Flick

    “Murder Mystery,” the latest Adam Sandler film to debut on Netflix, broke viewing records on the streaming service, the company revealed Tuesday. The film, which is co-headlined by Jennifer Aniston, was seen by close to 30.9 million households in its first 3 days, according to a tweet sent out Tuesday afternoon. 🚨ADAM SANDLER AND JENNIFER [...]

  • Charles Caldas To Step Down as

    Charles Caldas To Step Down as Merlin CEO

    Charles Caldas, the only CEO that the independent-label collective Merlin has ever known, announced today that he will step down from his post at the end of 2019, after more than 12 years at the helm of the global rights organization. He will continue his current duties until then and work with the Merlin board to [...]

  • Vice Media Digital Makeover Triggers Traffic

    Vice Media Digital Makeover Triggers Traffic Slide

    Life on its own online isn’t easy for Vice Media. Ending the digital publisher’s controversial practice of rolling up web traffic for partner sites into an aggregated number resulted in the total domestic traffic falling nearly by half between March 2019 and the following month, according to Comscore. The numbers improved slightly for May, when [...]

  • Merlin Reports Record Distributions for 2019

    Merlin Reports Record Distributions for 2019

    Global indie-label collective Merlin reported record distributions in its 2019 membership report, paying $845 million to label and distributor members between April 2018 and March of this year. That figure, a 63% year-over-year increase, includes more than $130 million paid out this year from non-royalty income — and included in that figure is the estimated [...]

  • Sarah Iooss - Twitch

    Twitch Hires Sarah Iooss, Former Mic and Viacom Exec, as Head of North America Sales

    Twitch has tapped Sarah Iooss, most recently EVP of revenue at millennial-news startup Mic, to lead the advertising sales team in North America for the Amazon-owned live-streaming video platform focused on video gaming. Iooss will be based in New York, reporting to chief revenue officer Walker Jacobs, who joined Twitch last fall after serving as [...]

  • Calibra app

    Spotify: Facebook's Libra Cryptocurrency Will Help Subscription Services

    When Facebook officially announced its plans for a new cryptocurrency called Libra Tuesday, it also revealed that Spotify was part of a consortium of companies called the Libra Association that is backing the project. The music service hopes that digital money can help subscription services sign up new customers. “One challenge for Spotify and its [...]

  • And Then We Danced

    Swedish Outfit French Quarter Steps Into TV With Graphic Novel Adaptation

    Swedish production company French Quarter, the outfit behind Cannes Directors’ Fortnight entry “And Then We Danced,” is venturing into TV with a web series adapted from Henrik Bromander’s graphic novel “Kurs I självutplåning” (“Course in self-annihilation”). The comedy series has been commissioned by the Swedish broadcaster SVT, as first reported by Nordic Film & TV [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content